Senators News: September 4th

Pierre Dorion talks about his views on scouting and on Stefan Noesen:

It [scouting] still comes down to having a really good group of scouts, whether it’s on the amateur side or the pro side. It’s still about putting good lists together and still having that gut feeling — I think this player will play (in the NHL) because of his hockey sense. Player Y will play because of his desire or character, or maybe Player Z will play because of his skating ability. Maybe he won’t score like he did in junior, but his skating ability will allow him to be a third- or fourth-line player. Those things haven’t really changed. I must have seen 10 scouts with iPads [at the Ivan Hlinka tournament], and I don’t think I saw any last year. So I think it’s just another direction teams are going. A guy who gets overlooked because we had three first-round picks a year ago is Stefan Noesen. He’s made really big strides. He’s the type of guy who plays the game the right way. He goes to the net, he gets dirty goals and can shoot the puck. He makes plays in the offensive zone. He competes in both ends of the rink. Where he was a year ago to where he was at the end of the year … he’s made huge progress.

All I can draw from this in regards to scouting is that Dorion likes a consensus of opinions when it comes to making his draft lists.

-Motivated by the Kyle Turris signing, Varada offers the following:

The only scenario in which I care if an owner is getting value for his money is one in which he intends to spend as much as he is allowed, and the value of his contracts will help the team compete against other cap spenders. If Turris ends up being worth, say $5MM, why would I, as a fan, care that the team has to spend that? When we talk about the fan experience of watching a hockey game, one factor–money–is abstract, and doesn’t really impact how entertaining the game is. The other–term–isn’t abstract because we watch these players for the years of their contract. It seems logical to me that we should have a greater investment in the quality of the product on the ice than in the owner getting value for his money. These things are related, of course, but less so when you have a team spending so little in any case. What should terrify fans more is term. If this 23 year old incurs an injury or mental block or simply fails to perform without the motivation of needing a contract for five more years, then it affects me as a fan. Simply put, I’m stunned that this management was willing to give out a contract of that length after such a short audition. Erik Karlsson only got two more years than Turris.

I don’t fully agree with Varada, as when a fan watches a game a player’s performance is frequently referenced to how much they earn (a low salaried player who delivers is a great bargain, a high salaried player who doesn’t deliver is a bad signing and needs to be moved).  Money gets brought up all the time by the media and fans (Varada’s view of Turris henceforth is going to be affected by his deal), so I think it does impact how fans watch the game.  It’s an interesting point nonetheless.  I’ll also quibble with one part of his “what if” scenarios for players on long-term deals–if they suffer a serious injury they became cap irrelevant as they get put on LTIR.  Long term injuries are much less frightening than a highly paid player who underperforms.

-Here’s my profile of Jason Spezza.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Player Profile: Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza, C, Contract: 7.0/15 (UFA) 1-2/01 (Johnston)
6’3, Shoots R, YOB 1983, Mississauga, Ont
2008-09 NHL Ott 82-32-41-73 (ppg 0.89) -14 79pim (1 fight) TOI 19:41 FO% 53.3
2009-10 NHL Ott 60-23-34-57 (ppg 0.95) Even 20pim TOI 19:03 FO% 50.5
2010-11 NHL Ott 62-21-36-57 (ppg 0.92) -7 28pim TOI 20:11 FO% 56.3
2011-12 NHL Ott 80-34-50-84 (ppg 1.05) +11 36pim TOI 19:55 FO% 53.5

The main piece of the Alexei Yashin trade, long gone are the days of Spezza butting heads with then-coach Jacques Martin for ice time.  Since the lockout Spezza has been the team’s uncontested #1 center and among the most productive players in the league.  While his name is never included in discussions of the best of the best, he’s an elite player who can’t be replaced in the lineup.

The disastrous 2010-11 season was one to forget for Spezza just like the rest of his teammates, even though his numbers didn’t drop dramatically.  Injury problems were a big part of his struggles (as he demonstrated after recovering in February, going 30-12-25-37 versus 32-9-11-20 prior too), but he was hardly the main problem for the team as they crashed and burned.

Last season was the first healthy one for Spezza since 09-10; he was on the positive side of the plus/minus ledger for the first time since 07-08, and he finished fourth in league scoring (yes, fourth with only 84 points), playing a big part of the team’s surprising run to a playoff spot.  The main criticism of Spezza throughout his carrer has been puck management and turnovers.  It has been written about so much that it’s nearly impossible to say anything new about it (as one can see from 2007 , 20082010, etc).  There’s no question that he does turn over the puck by making risky plays, but I believe it is part of what makes him a creative player and that the good outweighs the bad.  Mistakes are easy to magnify and I think he has been getting better about his puck-management as he’s matured.

With Daniel Alfredsson nearing retirement, Spezza is the obvious choice to pick up his mantle.  He’s not the same kind of player, but I think (like most elite players) he’ll relish the challenge of taking it over.  In the upcoming season Spezza should score at a point-per-game pace if he can stay healthy (last year I predicted the same).

Here are some Spezza highlights along with him turning Sheldon Souray into a pylon.